After Tennessee’s 35-13 loss to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, senior safety Nigel Warrior was asked about a highly questionable foul called on redshirt senior outside linebacker Darrell Taylor in the third quarter of the game. Taylor was flagged for “roughing the passer” after he hit Alabama quarterback Mac Jones and pushed off him to get up off the ground.
Warrior was adamant that the foul was a little weak from the officials.
“I didn’t [see the replay], but I know for a fact we’re out there playing football,” Warrior said to reporters after the game. “This is a man’s sport. I saw a little bit of it, and I feel like it shouldn’t have been called. I just feel like it was a little petty.”
On Monday, head coach Jeremy Pruitt said that after watching the film from Saturday’s game, he didn’t think the play warranted throwing a flag.
“The call on Darrell Taylor was absolutely not a penalty,” Pruitt stated during his Monday press conference. “It’s not a penalty, okay? Would it change the game? I don’t know. I know they would have punted instead of going on and scoring that possession.”
— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) October 20, 2019
The flag came on a third down play for Alabama where Jones’ pass fell incomplete on third down. That would’ve marked the second-straight three-and-out for Alabama’s offense to start the second half, and Tennessee would’ve gotten the ball back down only 21-13 with around eight minutes to go in the third quarter.
Instead, Alabama was given new life, and they ended up marching down the field on a 10-play, 76-yard drive that was capped off by a touchdown. That pushed the score to 28-13 and put the pressure on Tennessee’s offense.
Both Warrior and Pruitt chimed in on the play, but what does Taylor himself think about it?
“I didn’t think I did a (roughing the passer penalty), but I can’t change what the ref called,” Taylor said during a media availability on Tuesday afternoon. “I can’t tell the ref how to call the game. But we’re moving forward from that, and we’re looking forward to playing South Carolina this weekend.”
According to Taylor, the official who threw the flag hadn’t given him any sort of warning at any point earlier in the game about pushing the limits, and the ref didn’t give much of an explanation to Jeremy Pruitt about the play, either.
“He didn’t say nothing (to me), he just told Coach Pruitt I pushed him on the ground, and that was it,” Taylor explained.
The play served as one of several turning points in Saturday’s contest, and it provided Alabama with a chance to capitalize on a big moment. The Tide did just that, and they maintained control of the game after that.
What did Darrell Taylor learn from that moment? Not much.
“I honestly can’t say what I learned from it,” Taylor said. “I can’t say it was a bad call or a good call. It was on the official. That’s why we have them, to do their job, and I guess that’s what he did.
“We had a lot of game still left, so I did my best to flush it so we could get on with the rest of the game and keep on playing our best.”
The redshirt senior did what he could to dump it from his mind in Saturday’s game, and he’s moving on from that call and from the game itself this week. The Vols’ have a pivotal contest with South Carolina upcoming on Saturday, and Taylor and the rest of the defense feels like it’s a very winnable game.
All they have to do is follow the game plan and execute.
“We got confidence going into this game thinking we’re going to win,” Taylor stated. “We just gotta go out and execute our game plan. I think it’ll give us the best opportunity to win this weekend.”